Want the Best Fruit Salad This Spring? Just Add Salt

You'll be surprised by what a pinch can do.

Fresh Fruit Salad
Photo: Jen Causey

I am a firm believer in the philosophy that salt makes everything better. Boiling water? Add salt to build flavor from the beginning. Tenderizing meat? Salt and sugar work in harmony to break down the proteins in the meat, making it more tender. No matter what dish you're making, you'll almost always find salt on the ingredient list, and for good reason. If a dish tastes bland or lacks flavor, I've found that adding salt is almost always the solution.

Now, keep in mind, there are many different types of salt out there. I always keep my pantry stocked with kosher salt, which is a great all-around choice for both cooking and baking. I keep pink Himalayan salt on the table for finishing dishes. And of course, there is my beloved Maldon salt, the flaky finishing salt that I can never go without. I use flaky salt to top baked goods, from chocolate chip cookies to brownies, rounding out the sweetness and providing a welcome salty contrast.

Pairing Salty And Sweet

Let's say it's the morning of your spring garden party and you simply don't have time to pull off a tray of cookies. No problem. A fruit salad is the fresh, seasonal finale that comes together in minutes. But let's face it: An ordinary fruit salad can be mediocre. We're here with some advice on how to make your fruit salad the star of the show: Just add salt, and your fruit salad with taste like anything but an afterthought.

Southerners are no strangers to pairing salty and sweet. We've been salting our watermelon for generations, and we're even known to drop peanuts in our glasses of Coca Cola. So when you're tossing together a fruit salad this spring, take the time-tested Southern tradition to heart and add salt.

Why It Works

Now, salting your fruit salad may sound a little crazy, but the concept isn't so novel once you consider the science. Southern Living writer Kimberly Holland breaks it down in her explanation of why Southerners salt their watermelon: "When a fine sprinkle of salt is added to watermelon, the balance of flavors shifts a bit, and watermelon becomes increasingly sweet. Salt is commonly used to dampen bitter flavors—Brussels sprouts or leafy greens are a good example—so when the bitterness of the watermelon is masked by the salt, the sugary sweetness shines."

Any fruit that leans naturally towards the bitter side can be enhanced by a pinch of salt, which draws out and plays off of the fruit's sweeter notes. We're talking pineapple, melons, grapefruit—you name it. Add a pinch of salt to our favorite Fresh Fruit Salad to bring a note of excitement and complexity, or try one of our other fruit salad recipes—any recipe that calls for melon is a great place to start.

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